Today’s song is ‘How Can You Mend A Broken Heart’. This was a song released by the Bee Gees in 1971. It was written mainly by Barry and Robin Gibb and was the lead and first single on the group's 1971 album ‘Trafalgar’. It was their first US Number 1 single and it also reached Number 1 in ‘Cash Board Magazine’ for two weeks. The song appears in the 2013 film ‘American Hussle’ and on its soundtrack.
Barry and Robin Gibb wrote the song on August 1970, when the Gibb brothers had reconvened following a period of break-up and alienation. "Robin came to my place," says Barry, "and that afternoon we wrote 'How Can You Mend a Broken Heart' and that obviously was a link to us coming back together. We called Maurice, finished the song, went to the studio.”
Following the release of ‘How Can You Mend a Broken Heart’, the song was nominated for a ‘Grammy Award for Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group’.
When this song was first released, I was just coming out of my training as a Probation Officer in Newcastle and my first job location was working in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. As a young man, I wasn’t averse to getting into a bit of street fighting on the estate where we were brought up In Liversedge. Having a fight whenever ‘called out’ by someone else was expected of one if they wanted to preserve their gang respect from their mates. It was common for young men to fight over all manner of things during the 1950s, but wherever the honour of your young woman was concerned, whenever another young man insulted her, an instant duel to the death was demanded. This kind of fight invariably ended with one or both combatants being taken to the hospital badly hurt.
The rules of combat were always adhered to if one didn’t want to be shamed and have their family name sullied through the charge of ‘cowardice’. While being ‘a good fighter’ did one’s street cred no harm, winning a fight outright proved less important than how well a young man fought. If one gave as good as one got, or in some cases, gave as good as one could, the honour would be restored. Kicking was outlawed in my day and weapons were unthinkable. Only fists and hands were permissible and if the opponent raised their hand in the air from a prostrate position to indicate he’d had enough if the fighter who was winning struck another blow, he’d be shamed and booted out of the gang. It was not unusual to have an arm or a leg broken in a gang fight. I have broken a few ribs, arms and legs in my time and have had half a dozen of my own limbs broken in reply.
All through my teenage years to adulthood and emigrating to Canada, I may have broken many an arm or a leg in a fight, but I never once broke a heart, either by intention, deliberate action or ‘without fair warning’. I was a romancer who was always falling in love with a beautiful young woman at the drop of a hat or some lower garment, but I never allowed any young woman I dated to be left with any impression that ‘I was the settling-down type of person’.
I preferred to be in the company of a good- looking woman, especially a female who was a good Bopper on the dance floor. Consequently, after a few dates, if I was getting to like the young woman a bit too much for my own liking or sensed that she was starting to get emotionally attached to me, I would be instantly off and in search of a new date. I treasured my independence and freedom to do what I wanted too much to give it up to any woman. I prized the opportunity to go where I pleased, with whom and when I liked too greatly to willingly part with it for the exclusivity of one relationship; however enjoyable.
Paradoxically, instead of putting girls off wanting my company and their desire to date me, my exclusivity seemed to simply attract the fairer sex more. I had made myself one of the ‘untouchables’, a form of ‘forbidden fruit’ that hung low on a passion tree from which most young Eves wanted to eat. If any heart got broken, therefore, it would have been done unintentionally and with sufficient advanced warning if my freedom was targetted.
As a Probation Officer and a Marriage Guidance Counsellor for several years, I witnessed too many broken relationships which left one side totally devastated and emotionally disturbed. I witnessed many relationships where physical, sexual and mental abuse was distributed uncaringly by one partner towards another. As the founder of ‘Anger Management’ (a method of working to decrease anger in individuals), I also worked with violent criminals who displayed involuntary aggressive responses and behaviour patterns.
I will never forget one woman from Holmfirth in Huddersfield who had experienced a chain of violent and aggressive relationships with her many partners between the ages of 16-40 years. The violence had been inflicted towards herself initially by a violent parent. When the violence became too bad, around the age of 16 years, she ran away from home. She did not escape the violence however and running away from home was simply jumping from the frying pan into the fire. Every man she got attached too had a violent streak in him and they would frequently physically assault and beat up on her.
I will never forget trying hard to understand that it was the emotional and psychological hurt she couldn’t endure during a relationship and not the physical abuse. During one office session, she was telling me that half a dozen partners of hers had all displayed similar patterns of aggressive behaviour towards her She said, “I always seem to love and attract the wrong type of man, Mr Forde” I can still recall her telling me, “It always starts and finishes up the same. I find myself being attracted to the bad boys; then, after I fall in love and we move in together, I find they are always violent and controlling. I have been stabbed by one, knocked unconscious by another on four occasions, had my teeth knocked out by fists to the face, kicked in the stomach when I was pregnant, and jumped on sexually(against my wishes to the contrary) whenever he came back home randy and drunk. They all broke my heart, Mr Forde!”
Then she added, “It wasn’t the aggro I couldn’t stand. I’d have probably let him break my arm and bust my face any day of the week, if only they had stayed loving and faithful instead of going with everyone they fancied, and not broken my heart! “
Then she added some words I will never forget, “Broken arms and legs can be mended, Mr Forde, but broken hearts can’t. They will always remain damaged.” I suspect that she was probably correct in her view.
I jointly dedicate my song today to two Facebook friends Cindy Sonday from East Lansing, Michigan whose birthday it is today, along with Briget Tobin who lives in County Tipperary, and whose birthday it also is today. Thank you for being my Facebook friends, Cindy and Briget. Hoping that you both have a super birthday. Bill x
Love and peace Bill xxx